Iain Cameron's Diary
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2004-06-26 - 9:55 a.m.

Crafter-Pandora has been occupying me. Part of the fun is that you get an odd mix of acoustic and electric tropes. I have no idea how Crafter engineered it. Certainly have the four band Graphic helps. There are about 5 Pandora patches that I major on including one fairly long delay John Martyn ambient type one. I am going through the BBC4 vid again – with someone you have concentrated on for so long you still find things on later viewings. Some very acute observations from long time observers.

Andrew and I mailed about Elektra artists – Tom Paxton, Judy Collins, Love, The Doors – its quite a list. Larry Ayres mailed.

I mailed with excuses for having messed up attendance at the Fraunhofer meeting in Dusseldorf next Wednesday. Stefan bought tidings from the client’s big meeting on Thursday where the magnum opus seems to have done the business and indeed I am recycling some of that to try to keep my Manufuture involvement in some state. I got invited to a Cambridge-MIT seminar in a fortnight’s time in central London – I had mailed the magnum opus to a Prof at the Judge Institute. So that’s a compensation.

For having mangled my German link temporarily.

The balance between the UK Europe and the US comes out - even on an issue like productivity in automotive manufacture. Productivity is value added per person employed – but value added arises from the use of assets. So you can look at the UK industry and ask who owns the assets which create the value added.

I estimate that somewhere over half of the assets are owned by Britain or the USA in about equal proportions. This is as you might expect because if you look at the global rankings for Foreign Direct Investment, the two largest countries in terms of investment flows generally are US and UK. In that sense UK automotive reflects global investment generally.

Of the remaining approx 40% of the value added, the two largest asset owners are the Germans and the Japanese. The Germans are the largest automotive industry in Europe and the Japanese currently produce more cars in the UK than any other nation – indeed their involvement in the sector has had a transforming effect over the last ten years – not least on my ability to earn a crust – and you can see the rising ten year trend in terms of volumes.

Then there are the French who are extremely good at what they do but keep it to themselves by and large. It is a surprise that Peugeot are at Ryton on the banks of the upper River Avon.

Against a global backdrop, one can see Toyota overtaking Ford as the global no 2. The global no 1 is General Motors for whom the UK is marginal and Europe a problem. The Germans, while their economy continues to founder, have no alternative but to make something of automotive and there is a big and successful BMW investment here. The closer one gets to BMW the more ferocious their management style appears – and they have the value added per person to back that up – ahead of Toyota for example who are also ferocious.

The value added figures for VW which in the UK is Bentley are also astonishing – I went round the Crewe factory a few months back and even I was shocked eg at the leather and veneer. In Detroit I heard their head of US operations explain the marketing strategy to the Minister. In essence the anticipated trend of the global economy produces people who might want a Bentley faster than it produces people who might want a Ford or GM car.

There are two schools of thought in the history of economics on the nature of value. One goes through Marx and is about human need, the other goes through neo-classicism and is about subjective perception . One is objective and the other depends a lot on things inside the head.

The Bentley VA figures are fascinating when you compare them to the objective processes in the factory because here subjectivity hits the material world – this is the core of Marx and Hegel. There are swathes of people in Crewe working the wood to produce the veneer. Why does the veneer mean so much in terms of how much you can sell the vehicle for to these nouveau riche?

The UK is the second largest premium car manufacturer in the world – it beats the Japanese and the US – only Germany makes more – they have Mercedes Porsche and BMW. I don’t really get Porsche or Mercedes although I like the BMW.

On Porsche - I have met some very bright Czech engineers whose office is in the same street as the primary school that Porsche went to. That bit of the north western Czech Rpublic has changed nationality a lot – from some places you can see Poland and Germany in a single vista. I thought the Czech company had a bright future and I gave them some leads into the UK – I thought they could help take some cost out of some of our processes.

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